"I'm happy to be collaborating with Cool Culinaria in its mission to put vintage menu art before a new audience," says Lou. "and I can’t wait for people to see some of the amazing menus that I’ve saved from being thrown away over the years.”
Lou Greenstein’s passion for collecting menus goes back to his childhood in Massachusetts when his dad took the family to dinner in a different restaurant every Sunday.
“We weren’t a rich family by any means but it was our weekly treat and sometimes my Dad would drive us for an hour or more to go to a particular place,” he remembers.
Fast forward more than 50 years and Lou now has one of the best vintage menu collections in America, numbering 10,000 items. He started with menus saved on those family outings and has added to his collection by trawling for treasures in yard sales, flea markets, old bookshops, auctions and ephemera shows.
“It became a hobby, simple as that,” Lou says, with impressive understatement.
People who know about Lou’s passion for vintage menus have also given him wonderful items over the years. The beautifully drawn menu cover of the Parisian restaurant D’Agorno, for example, was found in a ledger that had been put together by a rich American family to mark their Grand Tour of Europe in the 1920s. Friends of Lou’s found the dusty old journal in a bookshop and gave it to him. Now this lovely illustration has become a Cool Culinaria print.
Hugely knowledgeable and passionate about vintage menus and their cultural and historic importance, Lou is much in demand as a public speaker and he has also written a book A La Carte: A Tour of Dining History about some of the gems in his collection.
In his career, Lou has variously been a chef, a demonstrator of food and kitchen appliances and a consultant to the food industry. He was the television chef on Boston’s “Good Day Show” for 14 years and appeared as chief historian on Nashville Network’s “Cookin’ USA.”
He gives talks to libraries and historical societies and was a consultant to The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum, among many others.
Lou’s collecting is not limited to vintage menus. He also has more than 4,000 cookery books spanning three centuries, and thousands of examples of antique kitchenware including 200 meat grinders!
Cool Culinaria is thrilled that Lou has opened his amazing menu collection to others in the form of prints, notecards, pillows and mugs. He will be adding more menus as the year goes on.